One of the problems facing acrylic artists is that this type of paint often dries out too quickly. Artists who work in acrylics ( as I do, albeit occasionally) know how frustrating it is when you leave a specially mixed colour, for even a short time, to find on your return, that the paint on the palette, is now as hard as a rock, totally unworkable and, therefore, quite useless……
Having seen artists try to keep their acrylics moist via the use of cling film, kitchen foil and assorted covers, which worked for a couple of hours but not much longer, I have a solution that works very well, even in the summer heat of my Breton Studio. That is, to place the palette, plate, and so forth, on which you have mixed the paints, in a (preferably) clear plastic box that has a tightly fitting lid. This container will keep the acrylics moist and totally useable for several days. I use the container for a brand of chocolates (covered in gold foil) that are extremely popular at Christmas, for this purpose, and it has never let me down. I hope this tip will be of use to you.
I always enjoy drawing buildings, but, sometimes, as in this case, the main body of the castle wall, wasn’t particularly interesting, so, I took the liberty of adding two towers in the background, each with a conical roof. This gave more depth and dimension to the actual entrance and, it gave the illustration, ink on paper, more for the viewer to focus upon and to digest.
This type of “improvement” if you like, can be applied to many situations. You do NOT always have to draw exactly what is in front of you. If a view looks better without that hump of land in the middle of it, exclude it. If you feel a tree could be “moved aside” in your work, then move (or remove) it. Art is the artist’s viewpoint: it is not (unless you wish it to be) a photograph. Do not be afraid to enhance your work, if you see fit. But please, please, avoid drawing or painting, what you think a work should depict. This latter particularly applies to landscape artists who have a predeliction for illustrating all hills and mountains as enormous spiked edifices and all water (river, lake, pond, even the sea) as being flat calm……
Be flexible yet imaginative in your artwork. You are the judge of the final drawing or painting should look like. And on that last point, I appeal AGAIN, to all artists to remember to take a break and stand well back from your work, at least every 20 minutes. Otherwise you will will plough on regardless, often with quite disasterous results……..
When you are on a tight budget and are purchasing an inexpensive framed canvas, remember these usually have a somewhat porous fabric. If you wish to avoid using a large amount of paint/thinning agents for the finish you require, buy a large carton of Gesso (a type of chalk based bonding agent) and prime the surface with several coats of this quick-drying material. The results will give you a smooth and relatively non-absorbant surface which is ideal to work on and which gives very good results to your artwork. I have to stress, however, that in order for your portrait work to maximise your art skills, only the very best quality canvas will suffice. And even they, may require a coat of this primer to give you the very smooth surface you may require.
Perhaps you work in watercolours? In this instance, a small bottle of artist’s gum arabic or drawing glue is an excellent investment. This permits (a) colours to flow freely and easily under your brush and (b) it does not allow the paper to become saturated and thus unworkable. However, if you are painting with acrylics or gouache, then conventional water is probably still the best material for use as the spreading agent.
Now I come to a somewhat contentious piece of advice. Artist who work in oils, know that they can take a very long time to dry, even when used in conjunction with a drying agent. Water-based oils, though, dry quite quickly, but aren’t all that popular as to date their finish and spreadability and colour range is frankly not the same as their oil counterparts. I have found, that adding a little bit of acrylic to an oil colour (obviously exactly the same colour, hue, tone, etc.,) enables the oil paint to dry very quickly. A word of warning though. This mix has to be applied with a soft brush and brushed very well onto the canvas, so as to avoid brush marks when the colour dries out.
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Thank you for reading this, and I hope it will be useful to you.